Local Current Blog

All the Prince memorial performers, from most obvious to least obvious

If there was one trait that most Prince shows shared — aside from musical brilliance — it was unpredictability. After the initial shock of the Xcel Energy Center tribute show line-up wore off, then, it felt almost natural to see a few puzzling names. Some recoiled at John Mayer, and Christina Aguilera’s pick mystified most (update: Mayer, Aguilera, and Anita Baker have dropped out of the show, with several other performers being added to the line-up). The general audience’s biggest concern: “Who is Luke James?”

However, after a look into each of the memorial performers, the connections between each one and Prince (or at least his legacy) become more and more apparent. That’s not to say that each artist was one of Prince’s close associates or peers. But it’s certainly enough to predict that his memorial will be a heartwarming, high-quality show.

To help you get ready for October 13, here’s a ranking of all the show’s booked artists, from most obvious Prince memorial choice to least obvious. As the New Power Generation (led by Morris Hayes) and members of 3RDEYEGIRL will back all of the featured artists, they’re in a category of their own, but it’s worth noting that fans have widely welcomed them.

Updates: According to the Star Tribune, John Mayer has had a schedule change and will no longer be performing at the concert.

On October 11, The Door (the marketing/PR group representing the tribute concert) and the Xcel announced the addition of several artists to the bill. Some will provide extra instrumental support (saxophonist Michael Phillips, DJ Dudley, and NPG members Marva King, Shelby J, Elisa Fiorello Dease, and Kip Blackshire), but the other performers are now folded with the rest of the performers below.

As of 6:00 p.m., Christina Aguilera and Anita Baker have also bowed out of the event. Jessie J has been added to the line-up.

15. André Cymone

André Cymone is a clear choice to perform at any Prince tribute. A childhood friend and bandmate of Prince’s, Cymone impressed fans and critics at all three Revolution shows last month. During the State Fair, he sat down with Andrea Swensson for a taping of the Local Show.

14. Morris Day and the Time

Morris Day and the Time re-posted the Local Current blog’s “First details emerge about October 13 Prince tribute at U.S. Bank Stadium” the day after it went up (the band’s post has since been deleted), so their performance seemed like a given for some time. Prince’s Purple Rain co-stars played Paisley Park on January 29 this year, and their June 30 Minnesota Zoo set served as a nice tribute. Day and the Time will also be heading out on the road with Sheila E. this fall.

13. Mint Condition

Dr. Funkenberry had the scoop on this one a couple of weeks before the official announce. St. Paul R&B band Mint Condition toured with Prince on his Welcome 2 America tour in 2010, and according to Ebony, they were one of Prince’s favorite bands. Lawrence Waddell and Stokley Williams (Mint Condition’s keyboardist and vocalist/drummer, respectively) filmed a touching interview just after Prince’s death.

12. Mayte Garcia

Mayte Garcia was Prince’s ex-wife, dancer, and inspiration. She toured with him for at least seven years, and now, she’ll play his tribute show.

11. Judith Hill

Judith Hill could be considered the most visible of Prince’s protegées in recent years, at least around the Twin Cities. Along with Prince and Live Nation, she released her debut album Back In Time for free in March 2015, and after it went off the web, it saw an official release (and Paisley Park celebration show) the following October. Hill was incredibly close with Prince both personally and professionally, as she shared with the New York Times days after his death. Shortly, she’ll have to step back into the spotlight and perform at the Xcel.

10. Liv Warfield

Liv Warfield sent the New Power Generation an audition tape in the late 2000s, and Prince saw it, he asked her to sing on Lotusflow3r (2009). From there, Prince and Warfield worked together on several projects, including Warfield’s 2014 album The Unexpected. “Prince is my brother,” she told Willamette Week in June.

9. Stevie Wonder

He’s a legendary artist — one of Prince’s idols, in fact — and he was recently spotted at Minneapolis’s Jax Cafe. Subsequent rumors hinted he’d show up at the First Avenue Revolution shows, but instead, he’s on the Xcel bill.

8. Bilal

Singer/songwriter/producer Bilal first paid tribute to Prince at the BET Awards in June, and at First Avenue a few months later, he performed with the Revolution for two nights. Now that he’s on the Xcel memorial bill, it’s time to get your hopes up for his show-stealing cover of “The Beautiful Ones”: Prince’s legacy at its finest.

7. Nicole Scherzinger

Perhaps the most visible former member of the Pussycat Dolls, Scherzinger is a well-documented Prince superfan. She’s seen him play, been inspired by his work, and called him a friend for years.

Its been a few days since our Prince has passed, but I needed some time to finally collect my broken heart and gather my thoughts…I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with some pretty special people throughout my life, but Prince, hands down, is the most phenomenal [or as we would've spelled it, fun-awe-man-all] human I've ever been blessed to know. One cannot put into words the godly talent, power and magic he possessed- both on and off the stage. The world will remember him as the legendary musician, humanitarian and activist who united people through the universal language of music. But I will remember him as my dear friend, a brother, mentor and my inspiration. Through his integrity, Prince taught me the importance of being true to myself in this industry and through his wisdom and love, he has fueled my purpose and vision. Prince once told me, “Anything we can think up, it can actually happen.” These words awaken and ignite the truth now more than ever. To quote from one of my favorite songs of his, “ sometimes it snows in April, sometimes I feel so bad, sometimes I wish life was never-ending, and all good things, they say, never last”…though you are no longer with us, your Legacy remains forever. Rest in the Heavenly Kingdom, Prince.

A photo posted by Nicole Scherzinger (@nicolescherzy) on

6. Chaka Khan

The majestic Chaka Khan, who’s also known for her work in the funk band Rufus, is perfect for Prince’s memorial. Khan re-recorded “I Feel For You,” a song from Prince’s 1979 debut album, in 1984, and the popularity spike helped earn Prince the Best R&B Song Grammy the following year. Through time, Khan and Prince toured with each other and co-wrote many songs — especially on Khan’s album Come 2 My House).

5. Tori Kelly

One more of Prince’s protegées: American Idol/YouTube star/BET tribute performer Tori Kelly may be known as a pop artist, but she feels rooted in soul. “Soul is what makes me me,” she told Billboard, and Prince must have been able to sense that. After watching her play the Varsity Theater last year, he invited her to Paisley Park. Talking to EW, Prince said, “She’ll make it because she does the work. They’ve got her out there on the road playing, really learning.”

 4. Doug E. Fresh

Renowned beatboxer Doug E. Fresh joined Prince onstage at the 2015 Baltimore Rally 4 Peace, and according to Fresh himself, the latter asked the former to join the New Power Generation.

3. Ana Moura

Prince was a fan of fado, a mournful type of Portuguese soul music, and he performed with Ana Moura, one of the genre’s brightest stars, while touring in Lisbon. Now, Moura travels to Prince’s home turf.

2. Luke James

If the world was surprised by Luke James’s selection, it was on us. As it turns out, NOLA native James actually opened for Prince in New York City in 2013, and he has an adorable story about meeting his idol. This summer, James performed at ESSENCE Festival’s Prince-focused closing night.

1. Jessie J

According to Popcrush, “Jessie performed ‘Purple Rain’ on World AIDS day last December in honor of Bono’s ONE/(RED) campaign’s 10-year anniversary.” The “Price Tag” singer is a last-minute sub for Christina Aguilera, who is presumably still recovering from an illness she had this week.